Sierra Designs shines during Alta testing days

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it

Following the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City this past January, Pale Morning Media teamed up with Sierra Designs and Alaska Mountain Guides for two days of, ahem, "rigorous" product testing at the Alta Ski Area.  Hungry  for feedback on the new for Fall 2010 Sierra Designs apparel line, we invited several members of the outdoor media and a few retailers to try out the gear and let us know what they thought.  The skiing was great and so was the response to the broadest, most functional line of Sierra Designs apparel yet.

The new Prima Fusion jacket jacket in it's native environment; lapping deep pow off the Alta High Traverse.  Featuring Core Comfort Technology, the Prima Fusion provides excellent temperature control.  

The new for Fall 2010 RAD jacket is a burly, 3-layer waterproof/breathable hardshell perfectly at home shredding backcountry pow, bagging high altitude peaks, or lapping in-bounds trees.

And another shot of the Prima Fusion in action.  One of our testers reported, "it's a killer jacket, especially when you consider the price."

Also tested and loved but not pictured:
- Sierra Designs Gnar jacket
- Sierra Designs Mantra Fusion jacket
- Sierra Designs Frequency Half-Zip midlayer


Kelty shelters Haiti with 300 donated tents

While on assignment with 60 Minutes covering the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, Jenny Dubin was struck by the enormity of the destruction and human suffering she witnessed in Port-au-Prince and beyond. Inspired to help, Jenny took it upon herself to raise funds and supply tents to those whose homes were destroyed by the earthquake.

With help from Partners in Health, the Clinton Foundation, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Haiti, Jenny donated her free time and energy to provide shelter for Haitians left homeless in the quake's aftermath.  So far, Jenny has personally helped deliver almost 300 Kelty tents to Haiti.

For more information on how you can help, please visit Jenny's Partners in Health web page


My name is Scott and I'm a runner... I guess

I've never really considered myself a runner.  I know a few... they do things like compete in 5k charity races and run marathons.  I have yet to do either as I'd much rather spend my free time skiing or riding my mountain bike.  But with last year's rainy summer, this winter's severe lack of snow in VT, and my own inability to stay still, I have been running a lot... at least by my standards.

Thankfully for me, there are several great clothing and accessory options available to help fight the cold, dark winter weather and keep me running, at least until the snow returns.  Following is a list of my favorites for staying warm, comfortable, and motivated.

Sierra Designs Microlight Accelerator jacket-  Blending a water-resistant, 100% nylon shell with a fast-wicking, brushed polyester "Accelerator" lining, the Microlight Accelerator quickly sheds light rain and melting snow while drawing internal moisture away from your skin.  More than just a shell, the Microlight's brushed Accelerator lining offers just a touch of insulation to keep you warm on cool mornings or during high exertion winter activities.  I like to wear this with a lightweight baselayer and a lightweight midlayer on even the coldest days.  ($69.00, www.SierraDesigns.com)

GoMotion Light Vest:   If you've ever run after dark on a busy road, you know that seeing is as essential as being seen.  This is why I love the GoMotion Light Vest.   Designed literally to "extend the day," the GoMotion Light Vest is a low-profile, super-lightweight, mesh pack with a sternum-mounted LED spotlight that can light up any road, path or trail.   A high-performance safety light, the GoMotion LightVest has three different light settings and an adjustable focus that can widen or narrow the cone of light.  ($99.95, www.gomotioninc.com).

Primus PrimeLite Race headlamp- With a range of 125 meters, the PrimeLite Race is the brightest headlamp in the Primus lineup and easily the brightest I've ever owned... a good thing when running outdoors after dark.  An aluminum case dissipates heat for a stronger beam while a separate battery case can be stowed in a pocket for less weight on your head and better cold weather performance.  Three light settings provide the perfect amount of light while maximizing burn time.  Runs on 4 AA batteries.  (www.primuscamping.com, $85.00)

Ahnu FireTrail Winter running shoe: Cold feet?  I get them.  Ice and blowing snow?  Standard conditions here in Vermont.  This is why I dig the Ahnu FireTrail Winter running shoes.  A rugged Vibram sole prevents slipping on any dry, wet or snowy surface.  Hydrophobic mesh repels water so it can't seep in while a moisture wicking mesh lining moves moisture away from your feet from the inside. The combination allows feet to breathe and stay dry, creating the optimal foot climate. ($119.95, www.ahnufootwear.com)

Origo Paso Pedometer watch- Accurate to within 2 feet per mile, the Origo Paso Pedometer Watch is a full-function workout companion.  Unlike standard pedometers, the Paso is worn on the wrist, providing instant access to distance traveled, calories burned, target step count, step timer, alarm and chronological functions on the fly  Yup, I geek out on miles run and calories burned... helpful information when deciding whether to have another beer. A broad LCD display provides superior readability.  (www.origowatch.com, $40.00)

Playing to a weakness

You can't swing a dead cat in this town without somebody grinding on NBC's Olympic coverage. It's the skiing, or lack of it, that's felt like a boot in the shin (pun intended) for Winter Nation, but the more people think and talk and mope and think and talk some more .... the more they realize that the whole thing is just a grand old suckfest. It's gotten bad enough that the Twitterverse spread the head of programming's cell phone around yesterday. And it has almost become a noble challenge to find the live streams of the ski events online so that you can actually see more than the top three and the crashes. On tape delay.

But clearly NBC has a method to their madness. You don't just show up at Little Bighorn with a couple friends hoping to run into General Custer. You plan it.

The Olympic rationale is well known. It's about perceived viewers. Perceived female viewers. The prime time programming is what NBC thinks their prime target demographic wants, and you can see the living proof in the ads that NBC has cobbled together between emotional montages and figure skating costume tips. Not only does it assume that women are simply not interested in certain sports, it's a conscious embrace of "entertainment" programming over "sports" programming -- akin to running Super Bowl pre-game features instead of the game itself. And, sadly, it's something that Olympic coverage has been trending toward for a long, long while.

When the news landed this morning that American Idol thumped the Olympics in the ratings battle this week, you know that the suits over at NBC were not pleased. Initial ratings have been "better than expected" (thanks PR department!), but clearly they are playing to a certain crowd, and that crowd is choosing to go elsewhere.

Essentially, they've tried to repackage sports as tidy low-calorie morsels of entertainment, and now they're going to miss dinner. They're also going to miss two weeks of advertising make-goods that could cost the network as much as $250 million.

It's easy to bash NBC from far, far away and say that they're the only brand that's ever played to their weakness and lost. But look around, and you'll see that it's far too common both inside and outside of the outdoor world. It starts with the best of intentions -- there are grand things that happen in those conversations about growing a brand to be the best that it can be.

But chasing the bright and shiny promise of the new-new-thing is an extreme temptation for any brand. And a dangerous one.

Gold rush spreads West

Current standings in the State-by-State Gold Medal Throwdown. A little vague on how to classify Lindsey Vonn .... born in Minneapolis, but moved away at age 12 ... but we're going to make the executive decision and keep her in the Great Lakes.

California: 1 (Shaun White, snowboarding)
Illinois: 1 (Shani Davis, speedskating)
Maine: 1 (Seth Wescott, snowboarding)
Minnesota: 1 (Lindsey Vonn, alpine skiing)
Vermont: 1 (Hannah Kearney, freestyle skiing)

LINK: 2010 Olympic Medalists


Cold coast? Let's call it the "gold coast"

Current standings in the East-West Gold Medal Throwdown:

East: 2 (Hannah Kearney,VT; Seth Wescott, ME)
West: 0

LINK: 2010 Olympic Medalists


Got Game! The Woolrich Tailgating Jacket

I have a jacket problem. Not that I have too many jackets, but not enough room for them. Not sport jackets mind you, but outdoorsy jackets- 3 layer shells, soft shells, 800 fill down jackets, 20,000 mm waterproof breathable 4 way stretch ski jackets, and the list goes on.

Recently, I’ve found myself gravitating to non-technical wool wear; namely, the Woolrich Tailgating jacket. It looks as rugged as it is. The first time you put it on, you can almost feel the weight of the company's 180 years of history on your shoulders.

The Tailgating jacket is not for fastpacking, unless by that you mean packing the rear of your Outback on a 10-degree morning. It’s a jacket designed for humble pure outdoor pursuits; hurdling down hills on metal runnered sleds, skating on frozen ponds, and snowball exchanges.

The Tailgating jacket is derived in part from the 503, Woolrich’s original field coat, that was popular with hunters in the early 1900’s. The Tailgating jacket got great features like a tall collar that shields unprotected earlobes from skin searing winds and inner knit cuffs that keep light powder from infiltrating sleeves.

But the feature I like most is the game pocket. Originally designed for carrying birds, it’s perfect to stow an extra hat or pair of gloves for an accident-prone child or for carrying a foot long or two home “hands free”. The game pocket is cavernous. It’s accessible from either end. It’s the most underused pocket on any jacket I own.

The Tailgating jacket is available exclusive online at Woolrich.com and will be available nationwide Fall 2010. MSRP $189.

Heavyweight expedition skier weighs in on the new MasterLite: 'amazingly supportive & stable'

There's a common reaction to Garmont's ultra-new ultra-light ultra-alpine touring Masterlite. It begins with a little design lust, as fingers reach out to caress the glacier blue shell. And it finishes with the essential question: "when can I ski it?!"

While the general public will have to wait until fall 2010 to get in a pair, the pros have already started taking their first shots at the new gear.

Chris Davenport ... no stranger to big peaks and burly descents ... sent his initial response to the boots last week. Without a doubt, he's a fan.

"...I had the opportunity to ski the MasterLite and LiteRider at the SIA On-Snow show last week and I was honestly blown away by them both. No bullshit here from a sponsored athlete, they were amazingly supportive and stable on hard snow and at high speeds.... something I've never experienced in a boot that light.... wait, I've never skied in a boot that light before. Seriously, I tried the new BD boot and the new Salomon Quest and the MasterLite out-performed those new models by a long shot...."


Did I mention I should be guide in Alaska?

Via Teton AT

Is green dead?

When I was a kid, Earth Day was a big deal.

Of course I lived within the giant eco-Disneyland bubble of Boulder, just outside of which the gun club would host a prairie dog shoot every April 22. ("... on second thought, let's not park the VW van outside town limits ...")

And then ... decades later ... Earth Day became a big deal again. Consumers with a)huge home equity lines of credit, and b)Large budgets of Health and Sustainability were lining up outside Whole Foods just to get their perfectly smooth hands on the $30 organic s'mores.

Things were booming for green products and green manufacturers. The nation started to take notice. And nobody saw it clearer than those of us in PR land.

Like some sort of gargantuan Johnny Appleseed-effect, green articles went from a sprinkling, to a blooming, to a full-on orchard explosion of storylines in less than a year. Green products begat green coverage. Green features begat green "special issues." And ... wait for it... green publishing begat green advertisements.

But right when I was offsetting the carbon impact of my carbon impact, something happened to make the romance dry up. ("...Hey, let's face it, I'm a single successful guy, and my last year of high school could be the best one of my life.).

These days, however, green reporting has slowed to a crawl. Sure, it still happens here and there, but when companies are clawing for survival and consumers are counting nickels, it's not much of a surprise that green editorial opportunities are few and far between, that the distance between green advertisers has grown further apart, and that special issues .... well .... aren't they all "special" now?

Earth day is about 11 weeks away, and on behalf of all the PR wonks out there, I'll just go on the record and say that the decrease in requests for earth day pitches on editorial calendars is remarkable. It's not 2008 anymore, that's for sure.

But while that's going to be a bummer for the hemp and activated charcoal industry, in my heart of hearts, I feel that we're better off now. Ironically, the explosion of green coverage just wasn't sustainable.

It's good for green to not be the flavor of the month anymore. It's healthy for green to have to be revolutionary not just evolutionary. And it's important that green has to compete with its big brother value for editorial attention.

It's good lesson to learn, son. It's how the world works after all. And while it might leave a few bruises -- it'll build character, too.